The Erie County Democratic Party elected Jim Wertz as its new chairman during a reorganization meeting at party headquarters Saturday morning.

Wertz narrowly defeated Sam Talarico by a 42-39.

Bill Cole, who held the seat for the last eight years, decided not to seek re-election. After some very close races for Democrats last year, Cole told Erie News Now he felt it was time for a change.

Wertz is the associate dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a writer for the Erie Reader.

Sam Talarico is a retired teacher and representative with PSEA.

Wertz said he is excited for the new opportunity.

"It feels great," said Wertz. "It was a close election. I had a great opponent. I think now is the time for the party to unify and get together. We've got a big election coming up in November. It's important for Democrats to hold on to the seats that we have."

Cole said he will still be active within the Democratic party.